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Heat Release in


Hsin Chu
Dept. of Environmental Engineering
National Cheng Kung University

1. Introducton

It is important to be able to quantify the thermal changes

which take place on the combustion of a fuel-hence we
must look at the thermodynamics of the combustion
Next slide (Fig. 3.1)An elementary open system within a
boundary containing a working fluid, which is initially a
mixture of fuel und air.
The mixture could be ignited and burned at constant
pressure (as occurs in boilers), or
combustion could take place at constant volume.

2. Constant-pressure Combustion

A combustion system must obey the First Law of

Thermodynamics, but the application of this law may at
first sight appear difficult owing to the change in chemical
composition of the working fluid from a mixture of fuel
and air to the resulting combustion products.
The application of the First Law to the open system of
Fig. 3.1 gives, for each kg of working fluid, the following
(U2 U1) + (P2V2 P1V1) + g(Z2 Z1) + (C22-C12) = Q-W


The terms on the left-hand side are respectively the

change in internal energy of the fluid (u), the flow work
involved in propelling the fluid through the system (pv),
the change in potential energy of the fluid (z) and finally
its change in kinetic energy (c).
The work done by the system (W), in the case of a boiler,
is zero, so the right-hand side of the equation represents
the amount of heat transferred into the system (Q).

The changes in potential and kinetic energy of the fluid

can be considered negligible, so equation (1) simplifies
(U2 - U1) + (P2V2 P1V1) = Q
The enthalpy of the fluid, H, is given by
H = U+PV
leading to a final form of the steady flow equation:
H2 H1 =Q

This simple expression relates the heat transferred

across the boundary of the system to the change in
enthalpy of the fluid as it enters and leaves the system.
We will see later how it leads to a very convenient
method of measuring the efficiency of a boiler.
We can approach this problem by considering separately
the enthalpies of the reactants and the products.

3. Enthalpy of a Mixture of Gases

A change in the enthalpy of the reactants can be

calculated by summing the enthalpy changes of each of
the constituent gases.
The change in enthalpy of a gas as a function of
temperature is given by
H = cp (t)
Which would at first sight appear to give a straight line
relationship between enthalpy change and temperature

The temperature changes which occur in combustion are

considerable; nitrogen, for example, could enter the
combustion system at ambient temperature (25) and
be heated in the flame to around 2,000.
At the lower temperature nitrogen has a specific heat at
constant pressure of 1.04 kJ/kg/K, rising to 1.30 kJ/kg/K
at flame temperature.
All gases have values of cp which increase with
temperature, hence a property diagram relating the
enthalpy of the reactants HR to their temperature will be
curve similar to that in Fig. 3.2 (next slide).

The enthalpy change of the mixture can be obtained by summing

the changes of each of its constituents, an equation describing the
curve is

H R (m cP ) R (t )

For most purposes, an averaged value of CP taken over the

temperature interval is adequate, but the variation of specific heat
with temperature is not linear and for accurate work tabulated
enthalpy values should be used.


4. Enthalpy of Combustion

Similarly, the enthalpy-temperature diagram for the products

will be:

H P (m cP ) P (t )

If a quantity of heat has left the system, the enthalpy of the

products is less than the enthalpy of the reactants at the
same temperature.
We can thus sketch two curves on an enthalpy-temperature
diagram, one for the reactants and one for the products, with
the curve for the products lying below that for the reactants.
(Fig. 3.3, next slide).




At any given temperature, the vertical distance between

the two curves in Fig. 3.3 represents the enthalpy
released by the combustion process.
In general the magnitude of this quantity will depend on
the temperature chosen.
The standard temperature adopted is 25 and the
quantity H25 is the enthalpy of combustion for the fuel in


Some examples of enthalpy of combustion for gaseous fuels

are given in Table 3.1.
Table 3.1 Standard enthalpies of combustion
Hydrogen (H2)
Methane (CH4)
Propane (C3H8)
Acetylene (C2H2)

H25 (kJ/kmol)


The combustion of all the above fuels will produce water in the
flue gases, which can be considered as existing in either the
liquid or vapor phases.
All the figures quoted for the enthalpy of combustion given
above are for water in the vapor phase.
Should the enthalpy of combustion be required with water in
the liquid phase, then the latent heat of evaporation for the
water vapor produced in the combustion products (Hfg) must
be accounted for:
(H25)f = (H25)g n Hfg
where n represents the number of kmoles of water produced
per kmole of fuel.

The latent heat at 25 has a value of 44,000 kJ/kmol of water

Example 1:
the value of H25 for methane is -802,300 kJ/kmol with water in
the vapor phase. Calculate H25 for the case when all the water
vapor is condensed.
the relevant stoichiometric combustion equation for methane is:
CH4 + 2 O2 CO2 + 2 H2O
i.e. 2 kmoles of water vapor are produced for each kmole of
fuel burnt.
(H25 )f = (H25 )g 2 Hfg
= -802,300 2 44,000
= -890,300 kJ/kmol

5. Constant-volume Combustion

The heat released when a solid or liquid fuel is burnt is

measured by burning a sample of the fuel at constant volume,
hence it is important to look at the thermodynamics of this
process as well as that of combustion at constant pressure.
Internal combustion engine (vehicles) is a constant-volume
combustion system.


6. Internal Energy of Combustion

The combustion of a mixture of fuel and air at constant

volume is most easily envisaged as taking place inside a rigid
closed container.
The First Law energy equation for a closed system is:
(U2 U1) = Q W
As the system boundary is fixed, no work can cross it, hence
equation (3) becomes:
(U2 U1) = Q


The change in internal energy can be related to temperature

rise by:
U = cV (t)
Thus we can plot an internal energy-temperature diagram for
the reactants and products of combustion in the same way as
an enthalpy-temperature plot was made in section 3. (Fig. 3.4,
next slide)





The curves of Fig. 3.4 are described by:

U R (m cv ) R (t )


U P (m cv ) P (t )

Once again, at any given temperature the internal energy of

the products must be less than that of the reactants (since
heat has left the system).
The difference between the two curves at the reference
temperature of 25 is referred to as the internal energy of
combustion for that fuel.


Each fuel will have two values for internal energy of

combustion: one for water in the vapor phase and one
for water in the liquid phase.
The two values will differ by the internal energy of
evaporation (Ufg) of water at 25, which is 37,602


7. Relationship between H25 and


These two quantities are associated with fuel types,

because calorific measurements are usually performed
at constant pressure for a gaseous fuel, and at constant
volume for liquid and solid fuels.
As all types of fuels are burned at constant pressure in
heating plants, the question naturally arises as to the
nature and magnitude of the difference between the two


H 25 ( H P H R ) 25


We get

H 25 (U P U R ) ( PV ) P ( PV ) R
U 25 ( PV ) P ( PV ) R

The (PV) terms for solids and liquids are very small, so for
any reactant or product in the gas phase:
PV = nRT
H25 = U25 + RT (nP - nR)
where nP and nR represent the total number of kmoles of
combustion products and reactants in the gas phase,

If nP = nR, then H25 and U25 will have the same value.
Example 2:
H25 for propane (C3H8) is -2,045,400 kJ/kmol with water in
the vapor phase. Calculate the corresponding internal energy
of combustion.
We can write the stoichiometric equation for propane ignoring
the presence of nitrogen and any excess oxygen as they will
appear in both the reactants and the products:
C3H8 + 5 O2 3 CO2 + 4 H2O
nP nR = 7 6 = 1


H25 = U25 + RT (nP - nR)

-2,045,400 = U25 + (8.314 298 1)
U25 = -2,047,878 kJ/kmol
In conclusion, there is normally little numerical difference
between the enthalpy and internal energy of combustion of a
However, the phase of any water produced by combustion is
highly significant.


8. Calorific Values

The terms enthalpy of combustion and internal energy of

combustion have precise thermodynamic definitions.
However, in more practical situations engineers generally use
calorific values as a measure of the heat released when unit
quantity of a fuel is burned.
The calorific value for a liquid fuel measured at constant
volume differs from its internal energy of combustion.
Such discrepancies are small.


The calorific value of a fuel is normally expressed as kJ (or

MJ) per m3 (gaseous fuels) or kJ (MJ) per kg which is
applicable to all types of fuel.
If the calorific value includes the latent heat of condensation
of the water produced it is usually referred to as the gross
calorific value, where as if the water is in the vapor phase,
the term net calorific value is used.
The expressions higher calorific value and lower calorific
value are also in use.


A fuel can have four calorific values:

(1) gross calorific value at constant volume;
(2) gross calorific value at constant pressure;
(3) net calorific value at constant volume;
(4) net calorific value at constant pressure.
The numerical values of (1) and (3) correspond closely to the
two values of U25 while the values of (2) and (4) are close to
the two values for H25.


The value for hfg for water at 25 is 2,442 kJ/kg.

Example 3:
A liquid fuel consists of 86% carbon and 14% hydrogen (by
mass). Its gross calorific value is 43.5 MJ/kg. calculate the net
calorific value.
H2 + O2 H2O
hence 2 kg hydrogen produce 18 kg water vapor. The mass of
water vapor produced by the combustion of 1 kg fuel is thus
0.14 9 = 1.26 kg
the net calorific value of the fuel is then
43.5 1.26 2.442 = 40.42 MJ/kg


On a per kilogram basis, hydrogen has a much higher calorific

value than carbon. Carbon has a calorific value of 32.8 MJ/kg
whereas molecular hydrogen has a net calorific value of 120.9
The calorific value of a hydrocarbon fuel cannot be predicted
with any degree of accuracy from these figures, but there is
an implicit suggestion that the calorific value of a fuel may be
roughly related to the relative quantities of carbon and
hydrogen from which it is made up.
The broad trend is illustrated in Fig. 3.5 (next slide).
The C:H ratio range runs from anthracite and bituminous coal
(the highest C:H ratio) to natural gas (the lowest).


A much more consistent trend is exhibited by the liquid and

gaseous fuels, which have a much higher proportion of
hydrogen than do coals.
Fig. 3.6 (next slide) show the gross calorific values of these
fuels as a function of their C:H ratio.
Residual fuel oils (H, M, and Z)
Distillate oil (G and K)
Propane (P)
Natural gas (N)


It is possible to obtain a rough estimate of the calorific value

of a solid or liquid fuel from its ultimate analysis and the
calorific values of its combustible constituents.
For this purpose, the relevant gross calorific values are:
33.9 MJ/kg
144.4 MJ/kg
9.4 MJ/kg
The estimated calorific value is given by

CV 33.9C 144.4 H - 9.4 S


where C, H, O and S are the masses of these elements

present in 1 kg of fuel. It assumes that the oxygen in the fuel
is already bound to the hydrogen present.

The calorific value of a gaseous fuel is measured in a

device known as the Boys calorimeter. The operation of
this device is outlined diagrammatically in Fig. 3.7 (next
It is basically a counterflow heat exchanger.


When Steady-State conditions are obtained, the heat

released by burning the fuel is calculated from the
temperature rise of the cooling water and its mass flow
The apparatus is designed so that the average of the
starting and finishing gas temperatures is close to the
reference value of 25.


This temperature is well below the dew point of the

combustion products, so the value measured is the
gross calorific value of the fuel.
Not all the water vapor generated in the combustion of
the fuel may condense out in the calorimeter, but this
can be corrected for by supplying the calorimeter with
near-saturated air.


The calorific value of a liquid or solid fuel is measured in

the bomb calorimeter (Fig. 3.8, next slide).
This device consists of a spherical vessel containing a
small sample of the fuel in an atmosphere of pressurized
The bomb is immersed in an isolated water bath which
acts as the calorimeter for the heat released when
combustion is initiated.


The temperature change in the water is measured by a

sensitive thermometer, and knowing the thermal capacity
of the apparatus the heat released can be determined.
Once again, the temperature rise is arranged to take
place from just below, to just above the reference
temperature of 25 with a maximum rise of about 4 .


In practice, the thermal capacity of the apparatus is

evaluated experimentally by burning a known quantity of
a reference fuel, typically benzoic acid, in the device.
A quantity of water is introduced into the bomb to ensure
saturation, hence the condensation of all the water
produced by combustion of the fuel.